Writer Write-Up: Ashok Rajagopalan

- August 14, 2020


Ashok Rajagopalan is a veteran author and illustrator who has contributed to over 300 books and articles in an illustrious career spanning over 30 years! Ashok completed his Mechanical Engineering and took up a marketing job at Intel, becoming the IT behemoth’s only Indian representative at the time. However,  he soon decided to explore a more creative route, switching to graphic designing and slowly making his way into illustrations and writing. He has a flair of adapting his art style to the tone of the story he’s working on. From making you go ‘Awww!’ at the chubby cheeks and glittery eyes of super cute characters he doodles, to having you roll on the floor with laughter looking at the completely exaggerated features of the more wacky personalities he brings to life, his penmanship is almost chameleon-esque…     

The adorable elephant from his iconic series Gajapati Kulapati has already found its way on the shelves of thousands of libraries across the world. When asked about the inspiration behind the charming pachyderm, he says,

“I had attended a poetry workshop then. I was amazed to see how poetry could be incorporated into prose. The book is a result of the direct influence of the poetry workshop. In fact, the book was initially written for a kid’s reading session. That is one of the reasons why it is fun to enact the book. Gajapati Kulapati was supposed to resemble the walking sound of the elephant.”

A jovial personality, Ashok is very fond of humour, which prominently shows up in his books. When we asked him if humour as a genre is underestimated, especially in children’s literature, he laughed.

“Something that makes you laugh cannot be taken seriously. P. G. Wodehouse, one of the most widely read humorists, never won a Nobel prize but he is my inspiration. Any art form that makes people laugh gives satisfaction to its creator. Doesn’t this hold true for actors too? Romantic and action heroes command more appreciation but comedians are not so admired. I am happy about creating funny books for kids.”

Ashok’s bestseller ‘Ha… Ha… Hasya!’ is a book featuring a humorous take on a dispute between the devas and asuras in Indralok, where the asuras are in no mood to fight and thus arrive weaponless. Ashok said,

“I do not like unkind humour, so for me, the challenge was to write a lighthearted conversation while keeping the regality of the characters. I was very careful to not offend the beliefs of people. One deliberate attempt was to pick those characters which are usually portrayed in a fun way. I also created a new demi-god.”

Watch the video to listen to Ashok read an excerpt from his book ‘Ha… Ha… Hasya!’ and learn more about his journey.

#ACKandFriends is a weekly live show by our Amar Chitra Katha editorial team, where we connect with India’s top children’s authors and give audiences a sneak peek into the creative process behind writing books for kids. The show airs every Friday at 5:00 pm on our Facebook and Youtube channels.

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